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Materials

Chemistry in Pictures: New day for dirigibles?

by Craig Bettenhausen
September 17, 2020

20200917lnp20-blimpback.jpg
Credit: Hybrid Air Vehicles

Steampunk fans rejoice! Starting in 2024, you’ll be able to survey London while sipping a cocktail in the cabin of a blimp, if this UK firm gets its way. Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) recently raised $2 million to commercialize its helium zeppelin, the Airlander 10. The hull is a laminated fabric supported by carbon fiber and fiberglass skeletons. Filled with helium, it’s just barely heavier than air overall. HAV says it expects to have zeppelins in commercial service starting in 2024, and test flights like the one shown are already underway. Pass me an angostura sour and a monocle.

Worried about the helium shortage? HAV says 600 of it’s blimps would need 1% of the world’s helium supply. But that shortage may not be happening anyway. Look for an episode of C&EN’s Speaking of Chemistry in October all about helium shortages and the scientific response to them.

Credit: Hybrid Air Vehicles

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